|Zürich : arrival|
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Zürich is one of the principal gateways for international arrivals by air into Switzerland. The pocket-sized airport (www.zurich-airport.com), about 11km northeast in Kloten, is regularly voted to be one of the best in the world – baggage often turns up at the carousels before you do, and you can be sitting on a train heading for the city within an easy 45 minutes of touching down.
There are two adjacent terminals: A (serving Swissair, Crossair, Austrian, Sabena, Delta and Singapore) and B (all other carriers). Both terminals’ arrivals halls have tourist information desks (A: daily 5.30am–midnight; B: daily 5.45am–10.30pm), both with free maps, advice, hotel reservations boards, and surprisingly useful touch-screen information systems. There are ATMs nearby, but you’ll get the best deals on changing money in the train station downstairs (see below).
For transport on from the airport, the most obvious way to go is by train. The subterranean train station is directly beneath Terminal B. Trains depart 4–7 times hourly all day to the city’s main station, Zürich Hauptbahnhof (10min; Fr.5.40; last 12.20am). Departures are also frequent to points all over the country, so if you’re heading elsewhere you can generally get a train directly from the airport, avoiding a change at Zürich. You may prefer the pricey convenience of the hotel bus service (daily: half-hourly 6.30am–noon & 5–8pm, hourly 1–4pm & 9–10pm; 01/300 14 10), which leaves from the arrivals level between the two terminals, and can drop you twenty minutes later at the door of any of around thirty hotels in the centre. The fare – Fr.22 for one person, Fr.30 for two people, and so on – is substantially higher than the train but undercuts the taxis, which charge the earth for the short ride into the city (about Fr.60).
Most trains arrive at street level, where the echoing station hall is home to the change office (daily 6.30am–10.45pm), a scattering of fast-food stalls and cafés, a post office, a free hotel reservations board and, at the far end under artist Niki de St-Phalle’s flying blue “Guardian Angel” (installed in 1997 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Swiss railways), the city tourist office. Out of sight behind the travel bureau are the bike rental office and left-luggage counter.
One level down you’ll find luggage lockers, while going down again brings you to the shopping level, with a warren of echoing subterranean passageways stretching off in all directions. S-Bahn suburban trains leave from the lowest level to local destinations such as Uetliberg and Adliswil. Trains from these platforms to nearby towns such as Winterthur and Baden are slower than the intercity trains that leave from the main platforms above, but depart far more frequently.
Parking in Zürich is more difficult, and much more expensive, than in most other Swiss cities. All of the Old Town, plus chunks of the central commercial district, are off limits, and although there are half-a-dozen parking garages in the centre – the one on Uraniastrasse is big (01/211 47 38) – they can be prohibitively expensive, sometimes more than Fr.25 per day. If you know you’ll be arriving by car, it’s a good idea to ask your hotel in advance about parking spaces: some offer free, or discounted, spaces to guests. If you’re only staying a day or two, ask at any police station for a Fr.10 day permit allowing you to park on the street in blue zones – though even then you’ll have to find a space. Otherwise, the easiest option is to head for the airport: secure parking managed by Sprenger Garages is nearby at Flughafenstrasse 8 in Kloten (01/814 37 70, fax 813 18 32; outdoor parking Fr.30 first day, Fr.10/day thereafter; covered parking Fr.115 first week). You can reserve a space here by phone or fax – quote your name, the make of car and its licence plate.
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